Run Better, Erase Your Doubts

Shhhh…I’ll tell you a secret. Every runner has doubts. It’s just human nature. EVERYONE has that little voice in their head that’s willing to be insecure.
doubt and branches

The thing is though, while you can’t control the presence of doubts, you CAN control if you decide to listen to them.

Don’t. You’ll run better when you tell your doubts to shut the h*ll up.

TRUST in your abilities. Trust in yourself…have confidence.

It’s a sick irony that some of the most capable, amazingly talented people (and runners) are held back by one little thing…

…doubt.
trust yourself don't doubt
An inner self-critic robs you of your confidence, it steals your achievements, it cripples you, it institutes your limits. Quite often with us type-A runners, we can turn into our own worst enemies.

That should make you PISSED, get mad as h*ll!! Turn that rage AGAINST the inner critic. Use that fiery anger to erase your doubts and instead…

…trust.

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Related Reads:
Underestimate Me: Confidence is malleable, believe in yourself through it all

Runners, Get Your Confidence On: Workouts to build the confidence you need to race your best

#epicfailWIN: Why failures rock and shouldn’t steal your confidence

Combat Excuses and Run Mentally Tough Even When Things Suck
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1) Finish this sentence: “Today I will be confident. I will erase the doubt that I _______________”

Where Running Workouts Truly Begin

The true test of a workout is how you manage when it starts to hurt.
running motivation art
Ultimately the real benefits come when you start pushing through the pain and running outside of your comfort zone. This holds true both physically and mentally.

Physically the point of hard workouts are to demand more from your muscles. Make them give you more than they’d like to. You tear them down. Recovery allows you to build them back up stronger…but it starts with tearing them down.

Mentally a runner has to be tough. Tough as sh*t. Have confidence in your toughness, wear it proudly. Workouts are mental tests, they teach you to handle the discomfort so come race day you know you’ve been there. You’ve pushed through that pain before, you know you can handle it again.

The workout really starts when things start to hurt. How will you respond?

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Read tips from the pro’s on MENTAL TOUGHNESS for runners.

More MOTIVATION for runners.

We may be hurting but we STILL LOOK GOOD doing it! ;)

My latest RunBlogRun Article: “Danny Mackey and Racing Like a Beast”
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1) Where do you get your confidence?

Two Surprising Canned Foods Runners Aren’t Eating But Should

Runners are hip to knowing it’s important to fuel their bodies right. Gotta fuel the beast if you expect it to perform. It’s become pretty common knowledge to seek out protein-rich foods for muscle repair and growth and even Sesame Street can tell us we’re supposed to eat our fruits and veggies.

But canned foods, those can sometimes get a bad rap. Like the Foodie Snobs may not even walk through the canned aisle, right? ;) JK. It’s true the SOME canned foods can be loaded with sodium and fresh foods may seem like the better choice. However, canned foods really have come a long way in terms of getting ‘healified’; runners can easily find lower sodium options on the shelves. And hey, bottom line it for you: canned veggies last forever and a day, they’re often cheaper, and a canned veggie if it’s eaten is FAR and away better than no veggie at all!

run for pancakes

Yea, runners LOVE food!


Though let’s talk about two AWESOME foods for runners that are canned but probably aren’t even on your food radar at all. I’ll amend that…these guys aren’t exactly canned but rather tinned.

TINNED…yea, I know, cut to the mental image of people hunkered down in a bomb shelter, ‘those’ kinds of situations are when tinned foods are called for. ;) Just kidding. Actually, runners need to start stopping their carts front and center in the tinned seafood section.

Oysters

I’m a huge seafood fan and love anything and everything from the sea, but if your face scrunched up at reading oysters…unscrunch that runner face of yours. Oysters are loaded with iron, which is incredibly important for runners. Iron is one of those things where if your levels start to dip your energy takes a nosedive. Symptoms mimic that of overtraining, you could be beating your head against the wall in frustration wondering WHY your workouts are tanking, your easy runs NEVER feel easy, and no amount of cutting back is making you feel better.

That kind of over fatigue kills not only your workouts but your mental outlook, it’s not fun slogging along feeling like you’re running with bricks on your feet. One of the first things to do if you start to experience prolonged tiredness like this is to check your iron because you may be anemic.

Runners never want to get to that point and experience being anemic so it’s important to be eating iron-rich foods. [I also recommend that you supplement in addition to those foods.] Oysters are a great source of iron (zinc too) with 6.1mg for 6 medium oysters, or 88grams of oysters.

Sardines

That’s right, these little fishies are a perfect catch for runners! (sorry, I couldn’t resist) Sardines are an excellent source of protein and they have the healthy Omega 3 fats. All of this means they’re restoring your muscles, they have an anti-inflammatory effect, are heart-healthy, they’re also helping build that mental muscle…yea, runners are smart like that. [Omega 3 Fatty Acids help boost brain healthy among many things.]

fish on treadmill

Don’t swallow a live fish though, please.


Like most other foods from the sea sardines are also low in calorie, making those calories give you lots of bang for your buck in terms of the protein count. One sardine fishy has 25 calories and 3 grams of protein.

Now sardines come tinned in a few different varieties: in water, in oil, and in mustard. I recommend picking the water or mustard options, and from there get swallowing! Just kidding, of course I’ve got no problem eating a raw fish but there are lots of ways to creatively add your sardines to meals, added to a delish pasta sauce is one option.

So there, Foodie Snobs of the world be darned, there IS reason to park that card right in from of the canned/tinned food section! Runners should do it most definitely. :)

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It’s COMING!! If you’re in the Roseville, CA area be sure to come out to my big Ezzere Launch Party Runner Night on Monday, April 7th! All the details are HERE!! Lots of runners, prizes, shirts, fashion, and more. :)
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1) Do you like seafood?
2) Have you ever tried oysters or sardines?
3) Do you buy/eat many canned foods? What are your healthy canned food finds?

Runner #CoreandCake Party! A core routine chased by loads of cake

Let the #CoreandCake Party get going, Runners! :) I’m going to start by showing you a quick core routine that you can do post-run. It’s short and sweet but effective at hitting those important core muscles, so there’s NO excuse for not doing it because you can whip it out fast.

I’ve got some picture demonstrations for a few of the ones that might be trickier to explain. Truth: I actually did a video but I think I’ve already grown tired of my chipmunk voice, so opted for the stills. ;)

Here’s how it works, there are group of exercises. Work up to doing three sets of each group, do all the sets for each group before moving onto the next group. Try doing this (or at least SOME core work) three days a week.

Group A

reverse crunch roll in core exercise
1) Reverse Crunch Roll-In’s — Set of 16

2) Ball Crunch — Set of 30
*Note: for the middle set, I like to mix it up and do the crunches alternating side to side.

Group B

alternating ball reach
1) Alternating Ball Reach — Set of 30
* Alternate reaching opposite hand to opposite foot; 30 total, so 15 each side

split crunch scissor
2) Split Crunch Scissors — Set of 16
* Start laying flat, as you reach up to center with the ball bring your left leg up towards the ball. Lower back down then bring your right foot up to the ball. Repeat.

hamstring ball pulls core exercise for runners
3) Hamstring Ball Pulls — Set of 8 for each leg
* This move works in three phases, and similar to the BRIDGE EXERCISE DEMO I did but up on the ball. Start with one foot on the ball and back flat on the ground, lift your butt up so you’re doing a bridge on the ball, then roll/pull the ball in towards you. Roll out, lower your back down to the ground out of bridge, then repeat. Then switch to other leg.

Group C

1) Push-up — Set of 10-15 (Modify on your knees if you have to.)

2) Chair Dips — Set of 10

BAM!! You can’t tell me you can’t bust that out in 10-15 minutes at most. But the benefits to your running are incredibly important:

* Strong Core = Efficiency. Build up your core and ‘weaker’ muscles so you’re able to hold better form as you run. Maintaing proper form, even as you tire, will keep you more efficient…read as faster.
* Strong Core = Less Injuries. You got it, most injuries are a result of an imbalance that result from a weak muscle. Fix those so you don’t wind up injured and not running at all.

Oh wait, we forgot the OTHER major benefit, you do your core and you get cake too! ;)

#CoreandCake Party Phase 2…

core and cake
Nom.
run for cake
Nom.

eating cake

Cake sees no speed. Runners of ALL levels working hard get their cake! ;)


Nom.
eat cake sweats in the city
Nom….check it out, #coreandcake goes #SweatsintheCity style in my Ezzere Run Your Fortune Tee!!

Check out the AWESOME Lisa @ RunningOutofWine because she’s celebrating all the #coreandcake goodness over at her blog too!! :)

Thanks all your runnerchicks and runnerdudes for coming, now go get YOUR #coreandcake on too! Don’t forget you can tweet/insta/social media #coreandcake all day, seeing hardworking runners devouring their just desserts always makes me smile. ;)

1) How often do you incorporate core work into your routine?
2) What’s your favorite kind of cake, or any dessert?
3) Have you partied down with Lisa yet too?? If not…you best head on over NOW!! :)

Believing, Running, and Lies

A runner’s mind is filled with lies. We live in our own sort of warped reality. I’ve talked a lot about how lies are our little coping mechanism so we CAN stay dedicated and motivated to keep reaching our goals. That lies can be a good thing.

The thing is though, not all of those lies are created equal and it’s important to know which lies you should be ‘believing’ and when you need to be truthful.
believe and lies
Good Lies

* Midway through a workout: “I’m only doing 1 more repeat, don’t worry brain!”
* About to start a workout or at the starting line: “It won’t really hurt, I swear!”
* In moments of motivation lulls to just START running: “Just run for 5 minutes, if you want to stop then you can.

These are the lies that help us tune out the pain and call our brains out when they’re just being lazy. These are AWESOME lies and the ones you should be blasting from a megaphone because they’re coming from your inner rockstar runner. The runner who wants you to achiever your goals…believe everything they say, those lies will fuel your greatness.

Bad Lies

* Mid-workout brain chatter: “You can’t keep this pace up.”
* Starting line: “Holy crap, I don’t belong next to so-and-so, they’re going to kick my butt!”
* Mid-race: “They just surged, they must feel way stronger than me…I’m just going to let them go.”

These are all the things that weak, insecure, tired, lazy, annoying, complaining brain likes to shout at you. These are remarks your rockstar runner persona needs to refute and call-out as lies. “I am stronger than I think. I belong at this starting line. A race isn’t over until the finish line and I know they hurting too, I just need to hang onto them.”

Dangerous Lies

* Mid-workout: “What was that POP? I’m sure it’s nothing…I think this pain will just go away in a second…”
* After 6+ days of feeling like total sh*t and workout times getting progressively slower: “Just suck it up…I’m DOING this long run/workout exactly as was planned 4 months ago.”
* In life: “It’s totally okay that I’ve only slept 4 hours the last five nights and been existing on Sugar Daddies, Ramen noodles and Diet Coke.

You get a runner, heck-bent on proving their toughness and combine that with our own ‘stupidity’ (“It doesn’t hurt THAT bad, I can surely make it three more repeats!”) and that’s when things get ugly. Injuries, Baby, injuries. Runners are always riding a fine line between good pain, bad pain, when to push, when to ease back, and to our credit it CAN be incredibly difficult to distinguish ‘right pain’ from ‘wrong pain’ and from there the degree of ‘wrongness’. I’m sure that reads like jargon to normal people, but runners totally GET exactly what I’m talking about.

The thing is, runners usually have to just learn the hard way and suffer through times when they’ve made mistakes to LEARN. Eventually you’ll come to find it’s better to err on the side of caution. It doesn’t make you mentally weak or a lame-o runner; in fact it takes more self control and confidence to hold back and issue that self-restraint.

Think of it this way. You’re running and mid-workout you definitely know something is off.

Option 1: Either slow down to a pace where you don’t feel the ‘bad’ pain or pull the plug on the workout entirely. Follow it up with some easy days and you’ll be right back into training mode after.

Option 2: Grit your teeth, finish the workout come h*ll or high water. You limp through a cool-down and the grimace never leaves your face. You ice like a mofo the rest of the day, chomp Ibuprofen like they’re Smarites and pray you’ll somehow go to bed and miraculously be fine.

What scenario do you think wins out?? Finally, what’s the WORST thing that could happen if for some reason you could have finished the workout and been fine after? The running police won’t come and yell, “SLACKER!!” at you.

Just keep working hard and remember training works on the law of averages, that single workout isn’t going to ruin your entire build-up to your Championship race.

Why it’s Hard to Admit a Dangerous Lie is Reality

On the flip side, runners sometimes grit their teeth through the ‘bad pain’ because they are afraid that if they stop they’re going to lose the ability to PUSH through the ‘right pain’. I know you know what I’m talking about because it feeds right back into the GOOD kind of lies.

Running hurts one way or another whether you’re injured or not. You can’t let your mind actively be looking for excuses to stop. So naturally there is the fear that if you pull the plug on a workout one time, you’ll start a chain reaction that results in you never being able to finish a workout. This does happen, and it’s mental suicide for a runner but here’s the thing…

…it works on a case by case basis and for lots of runners this fear of ‘losing the ability to push through pain’ is irrational. So, be honest here…you DO know good pain from bad pain, you DO know you can push through good pain, so in those pinnacle moments of needing to decide if you need to stop or not, listen to your gut.
runner bones
If your bones tell you you’re in danger of really doing damage, stop. It’s not worth it. You can’t run at ALL if you’re injured.

The same goes for a runner who refuses to acknowledge they need to ease back and give their body some rest rather than keep pushing, and keep digging themselves into a hole. Again, all those fine lines, but if you’re experiencing chronic fatigue for a week or more, you need to adjust.

Training routines aren’t concrete and always need a degree of flexibility. Flexibility goes both ways, sometimes you need to push yourself harder but other times you need to know when to scale back.

Don’t dig a hole so deep you have to take a full-on break. Sometimes a few easy days will do the trick and breathe life back into those legs!

Wow, so many lies!! You see why I said we live in a warped runner reality, no?! But be smart.

Tune into the good lies and believe them with all of your heart. Then be secure and confident enough in yourself to recognize the bad lies for what they are and face the real truth.

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More posts on CONFIDENCE
More posts on MENTAL TOUGHNESS
More posts on INJURIES
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1) What’s a good lie?
2) What’s a bad lie?
3) What’s a dangerous lie?

Hamstring Strengthening Video For Runners: Keep those hammies happy!

Alright, Runners, time to tell you the brutal honesty about your hamstrings: they’re plotting against you! They’re weak, they’re tight, and they’re cranky! Okay, okay, I’m speaking in the general, so your personal hamstrings (if you’re ALREADY taking care of them properly), may not be secretly plotting away an injury for you in the future…but it’s an ongoing offense we must play.

Hamstrings rank among one of the TOP injuries, or underlying issue for an injury for runners. The reason? Partially our lifestyles with too much sitting and also because runners are just prone to tight and weak hamstrings. The solution? Be proactive!

I’ve put together a video demonstrating an exercise routine targeting those weak hamstrings (and glutes). It hinges on the bridge exercise, doing them as single leg bridges. Aim to do these three times a week after your run, it will literally take you a minute or two, so no excuses!

3 Way Single Leg Bridges
10 raises each leg
3 Different distances from glutes

Avoiding an injury that keeps you from running is an ongoing effort, being proactive in the stretching and core work is your two-pronged approach! These nice exercises are one part of the puzzle and the other is doing the stretching.

Do yourself and the rest of the world a favor and keep being proactive…an injured runner on the streets is NOT someone I’d like to cross. ;)

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Fun announcement! If you follow me on Twitter you may have caught wind of #coreandcake parties that have been going on. It’s simple, do you core and you get your cake! Runners are human, we work well off of bribes. ;)

I’d like to take this party to the blog world! SOOO…I’m having a #coreandcake party NEXT Friday, March 28th and EVERYONE’S invited!! Here’s what’s going down and how you can take part:

1) I’ll be posting a core routine I’m currently loving, followed of course by talk of cake!
2) BLOGGERS: This will be a link-up sort of deal, so if you email me: cait@caitchock.com with an RSVP that you’ll also be talking core and/or cake on your blog we’ll kindly link up.
3) Social Media: If you’re tweeting, FB’ing, or Instagraming on that Friday let’s bust out that #coreandcake hashtag and give me a shout-out…cuz, let’s be honest, I can’t get enough of seeing core and cake taking over the net. :)

So this is your INVITE!! :)
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1) What is one of the ways you proactively take care of your hamstrings?
2) What is one of your known weak spots as a runner that you give extra care to?
3) What’s your favorite kind of cake?
Ummm….chocolate….duh! ;)

Ruling Your Fear: Running Like a Gamer, Fear be Da**ed

Let’s talk fear. Okay, I’ll break the silence and let you in on a dirty little secret: EVERY runner has fear. Regardless of how fast they are, how much they’ve accomplished, the Gold medals sitting in those shiny cases…every, single, runner has fear.

Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means that you WANT something. You have goals, you want to hit them and you’re scared/nervous/anxious because if you fall up short…then what? Fear merely proves you have goals that MATTER to you.
running motivation art
With running there is also the fear of the pain. BAM. I just touched on the TWO big taboos runners are never to speak of in the span of less than 150 words: fear and pain. Knowing that pain is going to be there, that you’re going to have to be mentally tough and push through that pain, that you’re NOT going to let that pain break you…that’s also where a large part of a runner’s fear comes from. And it also explains why, every runner, regardless of how good they are, be they professional or back of the packer will harbor some ‘fear’…every runner goes through pain. It’s part of our sport.

Now the thing is, the big difference between elite runners who race like ballers and every other runner who races like a gamer and the runners who implode is: the gamers don’t let the FEAR rule them. Gamers rule the fear. They turn the fear around, use that energy more as nervous-excited rather than nervous-fearful/worried. See the difference? It’s all in the mind.

Not letting fear rule you is difficult, even the most experience runners go through periods where they may struggle and need to get back on track. And to be honest, there’s always going to be a point in a race or workout where you’re riding a fine line between keeping your fear in check, “Am I seriously going to believe I can make it at THIS pace for THIS much longer?”

Combat The Fear

* Find Your Confidence: Not letting fear rule you means you push those doubts aside with reminders of why you ARE a gamer. Think of past workouts, know that you’re mentally tough, know you’ve survived plenty of times when you’re mind began to doubt your ability…and you proved that silly mind wrong.
* Find Your Mojo: Tap into that confidence and a part of that is just realizing WHY you’re doing something. Without the ‘why’ as a driving force it’s easy to just let the fear take over and not give a flip over the outcome. Set some goals and know WHY you’re willing fight through this fear and OWN it.
* Relax: The thing with running and pain and then running through that pain, if you try and ‘fight’ it you usually wind up running slower. Kinda like you just have to ‘relax’ into the pain, let it come, than do your best to just numb it out. If this makes sense? To put this into more ‘physical’ terms, a good way to describe it is to just make sure your form and body is relaxed, you’re not clenching your jaw or fists or scrunching your shoulders up near your neck. Relax your body, relax your mind, don’t ‘try too hard’ and don’t ‘fight it’.
#epicfailWIN picture
Everyone has fear, and that spans across all areas in life, but I’ve always found the best way to rule your fear is to DO what’s scary and prove that you lived through it. The more times you get through it, the less scary it becomes because you’ve built up your confidence.

I’ll tell you what helps me, and I’m be brutally honest, I say it like it is to myself, “Stop being a freaking idiot, just effing DO it.” Now, usually I’m not fearful of workouts, but I ultimately realize that the fear is stupid. Just effing do it would certainly apply across the board though, and with running sometimes that tough love is what you need. ;)

As for running, you can never let fear of workouts or racing turn into a monster: 1) because that sucks any fun out of running in the first place 2) you’ll implode in the workouts or races. Rather, just STOP thinking so much and freaking start. Just get going, relax, and roll with it…fear be da**ed.

The reason I feel it important to SHARE that EVERY RUNNER has fear is because you shouldn’t feel like a weakling just for having fear. You’re only a ‘weakling’ if you let that FEAR rule YOU. If that’s the case, don’t lose hope because you can always turn that around…tap into your confidence and race like the GAMER you want to be. ;)

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I wanted to do a post on fear because it came up in a really great article by Jason Fitzgerald at Strength Running. Read “7 Quick Lessons from my 16th Place Finish at the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon” because it’s filled with tons of important recovery tips for runners. The bit on doubts is what triggered my idea for this post. SR is a great resource for runners, so go, stay and check out all his awesome reads!

I also talk a lot more on the mental side of running and tips to tune out that pain in my ebook “Effective Mental Strategy: Race better by out-thinking your brain”
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1) Fear is ever-present in running and in life. What is the last things you had fear or anxiety about?
2) How did you deal with that fear in a positive, GAMER way? Or did you find that fear won that time?
3) The last time fear won, how did you learn from that experience and make it so you can overcome that fear going forward?
Yo, we all lose sometimes, it’s just important to learn and make that a productive ‘loss’.

Embracing Speedwork: Why running faster is mental AND physical, how to shift your thinking to run faster

So one very hot singer has crooned, “Speed kills…” Well any runner can tell you that one! It’s a little two-fold though, speed kills your opponent and if you consider the lactic acid factor it probably feels like you’re killing yourself too! ;) Remember THIS cartoon??

It’s true, us distance runners, of the slow-twitch muscle fiber realm would most likely opt for a 10 mile tempo than sets of 800′s or 200′s. Distance logic right there.
runner on track
The thing is though, while you can’t inject your distance running legs with fast-twitch muscle fibers you CAN hone the ones you’ve got and it’s quite remarkable how malleable that muscle make-up can be with proper training. But here’s the thing, for long distance runners, GETTING FASTER takes both a physical and mental component.

Physical

I’ve written a few articles on the specific physical training tips to run faster. Distance runners SHOULD embrace those horrid 200 repeats, choke down those shorter intervals because speed translates up. You need to reverse ‘common’ distance logic and build from the bottom (aka shorter distances) up.

The faster you can sprint, the faster you can comfortably hold a ‘slower’ pace and longer. That reads as faster 5k’s, 10k’s, and marathons.

Do those shorter intervals, add some hill sprints, anything that involves explosive power. That’s the muscle-building and training factor.

Mental

Here’s the thing, if you’re like me you HATE that short running stuff because you ‘feel’ like you suck at it. You feel out of your element and get stressed more for the short stuff because it feels awkward, doesn’t come naturally, and thus gets a little frustrating.

ALL those thoughts create is PHYSICALLY impossible to run your best sprints. Crazy how the MIND can once again stop you from being the best runner you can be. The thoughts of feeling ‘out of your element’ create a foundation for stress and rather than running RELAXED as you should, you’re running tense. Ironically the more you ‘try’ to run faster, the slower you’ll be. True fact.

Learning and reminding yourself to run relaxed is an ongoing process. Here are some mental thoughts that can help you stay relaxed and allow your body to run faster:

* Arms: Laws of running physics (?? lol) hold that your legs can only move as fast as your arms. I like this because rather than think about your legs (let’s be honest they’re hurting like mad, let’s NOT think about them at all to block out that pain!) I think of moving my arms front-to-back as quickly as possible. The legs will follow.
turn left on the track
* Eff It: This is the mentality I’ve adopted during short intervals, but let me explain. I KNOW ‘trying’ to run faster will shoot me in the foot, so I force my type-A brain to do the opposite. I remind myself, “Don’t worry about the times, I know speed isn’t my strong point, but it will only improve if I work on it. So eff it, relax, you can’t FORCE anything so just roll with it.” Basically you have to embrace the ‘awkward feeling’, loosen up, and just ‘have fun’ with it. Also, stop telling yourself that you suck at the shorter intervals! ;)

* Effort: Tying to my tip above, ultimately running and training comes back to perceived effort. The watch and numbers only tell part of the story, so another thing I tell myself is, “Just run hard.” Run faster and even if you don’t look at your watch (this can help runners if they have built themselves a little speed phobia) if you’re running HARDER and FASTER you’ll get the rewards.

Bottom line here: even distance runners NEED speedwork if they want to run their longer races faster. Embrace the nasty shorter intervals, adopt the ‘eff it attitude’ and stop FORCING it. Relax the heck up and in true ironic distance logic you’ll run faster when you’re ‘trying’ less. ;)

1) Speedwork, love it or hate it?
2) When is the last time you did speedwork?
3) What’s something you tell yourself to make sure you’re running relaxed?

4 Crazy Important Stretches for Runners: Hamstrings, hips, glutes, and psoas

For once my running cartoons will be used and I’m deathly serious. Stretching, Runners, is no joke. I used to HATE stretching, I’d do it begrudgingly, but ever since my little revelation in Boulder I’ve pulled a total 180.

Now it’s good too because I don’t have a little bit of guilt writing about and telling runners just how crucial stretching is. I’m practicing what I preach, yo.

Areas that rank most common across the board for running injuries and the areas that runners are notoriously tight in are: the hamstrings, glutes, hips and groin region, and the psoas. I took my cartoons and put together a quick stretching routine that you REALLY should be doing as much as possible. Like daily…I’m doing them daily, so now I can say, fully absolved of any lingering guilt, that you should do the same. ;)
[Click to enlarge so you can read text...but please respect a starving artist's work, you can always purchase prints, contact: cait@caitchock.com]
4 important stretches for runners
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More posts on flexibility HERE
And a post on WHY flexibility will make you faster HERE
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1) How often do you stretch? Be honest. ;)
2) What’s one of your tightest areas?
Hamstrings and adductors.
3) What’s something you kinda feel a bit of guilt about when you tell others to do it because you don’t always follow that advice yourself?

This Is Your Runner Brain on Stress: The hormonal reason to all those pre-race nerves

The moments leading up to a race are this crazy mix of emotions: excitement, anticipation, terror??, chomping at the bit eagerness, hope, motivation, forced relaxation (attempted??)…flip, you name it! Poised at the starting line, every runner can relate to the feeling that they just may burst if that freaking starter doesn’t fire the gun! CRACK!!

Adrenaline, cortisone, hormones flooding the body. This is the internal environment of your body before the start of a race. This is stress on the body. I read an interesting article in Fast Company, it’s actually a business piece and questioning if the brain can actually be addicted to stress.

runner yelling track

This is your face yelling at the starter to just, “FIRE THE GUN!!”


After-all, stress puts the body into that fight or flight mode. I think everyone can relate to the rush you feel when you’ve waited until the LAST second to hit a deadline…some people are even convinced that their best stuff comes under that gun of procrastination. But stress is physical, the brain releases certain chemicals, the nervous system operates differently.

The same happens with runners. Many of those same chemicals are coursing through your veins leading up to races, and even workouts. We know those feelings, we know that buzz, and heck, I’ll totally agree that feeling is addictive. Why do you think us runners keep signing up for races, go out to nail that next workout, we love the rush that comes with it. Mostly the rush that comes AFTER…but the whole experience in itself is darn-right thrillingly addictive.

The problem though, is putting your body through that entire hormone/chemical crazed onslaught is wearing. Your body would literally explode (well, probably not literally actually) if it was in that heightened state forever. And the body DOES start to deteriorate if you put and keep it in that state for too long.

Runner Bones

Add some hormones to those bones and we’ve got it.


This is where runners get into trouble when they let their nerves get the better of them and they (literally) explode in races and workouts. Bwahahaha…when I say explode here, I’m actually meaning implode. They Bomb.

You have to keep all that nervous energy in check. As an athlete you need to, to a degree, control the release of all that adrenaline, cortisone, and all the other crazy hormones. Overriding that body’s natural instinct of fighting or flighting mode is difficult, and takes work. Naturally some athletes are just BETTER at mentally managing that, they’re the gamers. The trickier thing is, as with natural talents, describing HOW they do it isn’t something they can really put into words. They just DO it.

Though controlling your race and workout day nerves is still a skill that is totally possible. And just like mental toughness, it’s a skill that every runner continually hones and learning to get better at is a process. You find tricks that work, not everything works for everyone…and it’s like trial and error. This is where you take any and all bad races/workouts and use them to your benefit. Did I learn something that didn’t work here? Did I learn, then, what I’m going to try next time to make things work? Looking for key lessons from bad workouts includes both physical and mental things.

A bit of a personal thing here, I’ve always loved racing. That feeling is fan-freaking-tastic, and (this never happens, brace yourself, I never blatantly give myself a compliment. Ever. I’m working on that, but I’m petrified people will think I’m bragging! So I want to preface this with I’m not bragging, but this is something I’m kinda proud of.) when I was racing I was able to manage and handle that race day nervous energy well and perform better than my workouts suggested. So I’ll kinda share what I think helped me….I always remembered this:

Interestingly the calm slips away the moment the gun in fired. I think THAT, the wanting to just get into the calm zone, at least for me, was most of the reasons my skin would crawl, itch, buzz, wanting…craving the gun to just go off. Let’s just start doing this thing!!

Anticipation is always the worst feeling. In a roller coaster, it’s the anticipating the drop that sucks, the oddly freaky sensation of your stomach lifting, that’s the fun part. Just like running where we battle the love-hate relationship with the pain of racing, it’s a love-hate thing with that stomach dropping feeling. I think a big part of the nervous anticipation is that we KNOW there is a tug-of-war about to ensue…and we (hope we are!) want to be TOUGH enough when the true test comes. We know we’ve been tough before and loved/embraced that sensation…so we need to remind ourselves we will be just as mentally tough again and come through with sailing colors. Knowing that the crack of the gun will unleash the inner gamer in us all, is reassuring.

It’s the anticipating, wait for the gamer to come out, that makes us want to grab the starter pistol and fire it ourselves! With the CRACK come the relief…the release. The moment that happens, our bodies know what to do. What, as runners, we’ve conditioned them to do. With the crack of the gun we FINALLY, liberatingly are free of thinking.

1) Stress…love it, hate it, think you can be addicted to it?
2) Do you think runners are ‘addicted’ to the feeling of racing and workouts?
3) Do you think my little anticipation theory is anywhere close to something that resonates with you?